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How to create more space in your house for comfort

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By WILSON MANYUIRA
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When Ms Lydia Murage was transferred from her workplace in Meru to Molo by her employer, her immediate concern was accommodation.

She needed to figure out where she would quickly rent a house, and how big or small the house would be was the least of her concerns.

“I wanted a house that would be pocket-friendly while at the same time keeping in tandem with my social status. It also had to be near my workplace, as I didn’t own a car, yet punctuality is always a vital quality in the banking sector, where I work,” she says.

Ms Murage was lucky to find and settle in one of the best one bedroom houses in the area, which accommodated all her belongings at that time.

Fast-forward a few months later, she started acquiring more clothes and more household items. It is at this point that she started accumulating clutter, space shrinking with each item purchased.

Unfortunately for her, Molo is far from her childhood home, so she couldn’t hand down the no-longer-needed items to relatives and friends.

“When my daughter was born, I could no longer stand my house, because there were now extra items in it to cater for the baby,” she says, adding that unfortunately, she is yet to move out because it is difficult to find another house that is more spacious in the area.

Mr Simon Githinji, a medical laboratory expert, found himself in a cluttered situation when he got a job at Karatina General Hospital.

“When I got the job, I moved to Karatina alone, but when my girlfriend joined me later on, the house suddenly looked so small in terms of space,” he says.

The two families are experiencing nothing new, says Mr Justus Omari, an interior design expert with Nyash Interiors; this being a common problem for many Kenyan families.

“The problem of lack of space in your living abode is nothing new. At least seven out of 10 Kenyans live in constrained spaces, but they can get creative with what is available to ‘enlarge’ the same,” Mr Omari explains.

The first important step, says Ms Becky Siwa, also an interior designer, is to identify what is eating up the space and where.

If it is in the bedroom, for example, the probable cause of clutter will be additional clothing you have acquired or lack of sufficient cabinets and hanging lines to hold them.

In the kitchen, on the other hand, new utensils or bulky food items may make your kitchen look cluttered.

The sitting area, Mr Omari says, is the section of the house that is likely to get cluttered fast, because of the activities that take place around it.

“The sitting room is the face of the house — visitors come to the living room not the kitchen. They are entertained in the living room, not the bedroom — and thus people tend to acquire furniture and other living room items more frequently, sometimes without disposing of the older ones,” he observes.

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Mr Joshua Ireri of Design Fusions says that one should consider their outdoors as a possible expansion of their indoors, if such space is available.

He notes that while most people may ignore the outside space, by merging it with your indoors, you get extra space that you had probably never thought existed.

Besides, he adds, it enhances the appearance of your living room by making it look more spacious.

“Although you can extend the indoors to the outside from any part of the house, the focal point is usually the living room,” Mr Ireri notes, suggesting sliding door as a simple way to achieve more space.

Glass, he says, is the best option for the folding doors, as it brings about transparency. “You also need to match both spaces so that the outdoor looks like your indoors,” he says, explaining that using the same flooring is important so that both the outdoor and indoor spaces match.

Mr Omari adds: “If you have tiles on the floor inside the house, the floor on the outside should have similar tiles, same case with carpets.”

The flooring, he adds, should also be on the same level in order to create a seamless extension to the outside.

Garden furniture, Ms Siwa explains, is another creative way of extending your living to the outside.

Often, she adds, the outside has a protruding ceiling, say 1.5 metres, that covers the porch or veranda. “By arranging furniture — which are identical to the one in the living room — in this space, you achieve a seamless arrangement that merges the living room with the outside,” she says.

Of importance, the decor expert adds, is that the furniture should be placed in such a way that the arrangement in the living room extends to the garden furniture on the other side of the glass door.

This, she explains, makes the two sets of furniture appear unified, and in the process makes the living room appear more spacious.

In the cluttered bedroom and kitchen, the decor experts concur that using vertical spaces would be an agreeable way of decluttering your rooms.

“In the kitchen, for example, you can have vertical cabinets mounted on the walls to be used for storage of food items and utensils. Holders can be pinned on the wall where knives and spoons can be hung. This will free up space in your cupboard or the kitchen table,” says Ms Siwa.

The space under the sink, she adds, is another ideal storage spot where you can keep items that cannot be damaged by water.

Mr Ireri advises installing storage cabinets in the bedrooms, where you can comfortably store your clothes and bed linen.

“Colour-coded boxes are also a great way of decluttering your bedroom, and shoe racks will also go a long way in saving floor space,” Ms Siwa concludes.



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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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